Fine motor control seems to be mainly about stuff we do with our hands. Since most body action and control has been observed to develop from the torso outwards, fine motor control develops after gross motor control. Gross motor is the more challenging term. This particular list of infant development is helpful in defining gross motor:
- Symmetrical Bilateral Integration. Symmetrical bilateral integration involves both sides of the body working in mirror-image unison, where the actions on one side of the body mirror the actions performed on the other side.
- Reciprocal Bilateral Integration. Reciprocal bilateral integration involves moving both sides of the body at the same time in opposite motions.
- Asymmetrical Bilateral Integration. Asymmetrical bilateral integration involves each side of the body acting in a different way to complete a single specific task. For example, one foot may kick a ball as the other foot plants on the ground and balances the body.
- Crossing the Midline. The “midline” is the imaginary line down the center of your body from the top of your head to your toes). Crossing the midline involves instinctively reaching across your body to complete an activity.
These are all process of basic spacial awareness that fall under the larger gross motor label. The problem arises for me when we start applying the same term to actions like throwing a ball or skipping rope. These actions in practice require a great deal of fine motor control on top of gross motor skills. Even proper adult walking (the way I walk when I want people to think I'm normal) requires peripheral and distal (away from the torso) precision.
The physical therapy kinesiology world may have become confused because it has emphasized the use of muscles and muscle groups to describe action categories. It's my suspicion that because they possessed a detailed "scientific" map of the muscles early kinesiologists felt obligated to reference it as a way to confer authority on the field as a whole. But individuated muscle groups don't exist in a mind which is learning new movement. If we parse our imagination into muscles it will actually inhibit learning.
I'm still having trouble with the categories. I want one category for movement in which the mind is inside the body guiding and controlling! And I want a second category for movement which is driven by visual or auditory impulses seen, felt or imagined outside of the body!
Then again, I'm almost willing to accept that gross motor movement is the same as whole body power. And then re-define fine motor control as movement strategies which reduce, limit or focus power.
I'm suggesting that gross motor movement starts out pure, with the mind always leading the qi. Babies bodies are empty (kong) and don't store any stress in the muscles (xu) therefore their locomotion is only initiated by changes in spacial perception. Because they are xu, qi floats around the their body not in the muscles and bones. Because they are kong the shape of their whole torso changes to support and propel their actions as their spacial mind changes.
In any event, the process of learning internal martial arts forces me to consider this problem deeply. Lately I've been trying to take my Shaolin Wuhu Dao (five tiger broad sword) and my Baxian Jian (8 immortal double edged straight sword) forms and make them purely internal martial arts. I find that the big challenge is in the grip! To use internal power the sword must be inside my qi body. To accomplish this my connection to the entire sword has to be solid, and that requires a firm grip, like a baby grabbing your finger. However the techniques in both forms require a lot of fast loose changing of angles. The traditional grips I learned are ever changing, sometimes loose, sometimes tight, sometimes rolling. If I take out all that fine motor control in the grip it feels great--there is so much whole body power behind the swords. But many of the techniques don't look right--I simply don't have the wrist flexibility to execute them with a firm grip. Yet.
His Bones are Soft, his muscles are weak,
But his grip is very strong! --Laozi
Now check out how a baby at 6 months can lift his head! I key gross motor skill. Ask yourself honestly, do you know any adults that can do this? With grace and power? With soft enthusiasm? Every time qi rises in the body this is how it should look and feel. The Chinese term for this is zheng -- to be upright, to rectify, cosmic harmony.